Overcoming the Language Barrier

Every student starting college or university will face many new challenges: new pace of work, busy schedules, harder projects, and many more. As an international student, you will also face another challenge, that of pursuing an education in a language that is not your own. Overcoming the initial language barrier as you arrive on campus can sometimes be hard.

language learningThe first concern most international students face is to take an English test, such as the TOEFL, IELTS or ESL placement tests as they arrive on campus. Although studying for such tests is a great way to get started on learning English, many international students quickly realize that it will take more than classroom learning to fully embrace the new language.


Quentin, a Go Campus student from France, tells us how he overcame his worries of speaking English by joining a sports team.


“I was scared, my English level was far from amazing. But once there, I jumped right in and everything went smoothly. It did take me a couple month to adapt to the language and culture, but the fact that I was part of the tennis team made a huge difference.”

To really learn the language, it is important to spend as much time as possible speaking it. Many international students find it is easier at first to speak English with other international students, but avoid spending too much time with students from the same country as you. The more you speak it, the better your English will be.

Overcoming the laguage barrier

The way classes are taught in North America forces students to be engaged and take part in the conversation. It can be very intimidating for international students to speak up in class at first. Many students also find it hard to keep up with the pace of lecture at the beginning. If you ever have any problem understanding a class, don’t hesitate to arrange 1-on-1 meetings with your professors.

Bin, a Go Campus student from China, really appreciated the help he received from professors outside the classroom.

“If you want to meet a professor after class, you can just email them the time you would like to meet and they will be happy to help you.”

The important thing to remember is that you are not facing this language barrier alone. All international students face the same challenge at the beginning, and all of them overcome it. You just need to get out there, jump right in and don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

Sandrine first became an international student when she was 10 years old and hasn’t stopped since. Over the years, she has studied/worked in France, England, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and the USA. She brings her passion of travel and writing together to inspire students to embark on their journey around the world and discover its many cultures.

2 thoughts on “Overcoming the Language Barrier”

Share you thoughts with us!